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NEW conference delivers diverse D&I strategies

Friday, March 19, 2010  
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More than 175 consumer products and retail executives came together to learn how to unleash the power of their diverse work teams at the Network of Executive Women’s third Multicultural Workforce Conference, March 16 to 18, in Dallas.

The conference – "Real Change: Embedding Diversity and Inclusion into Your Business DNA” – offered strategies to motivate and lead multicultural and multigenerational work teams, change corporate cultures and diversify leadership ranks. It was co-chaired by Erby Foster, director of diversity and inclusion for The Clorox Company, and Trudy Bourgeois, president of The Center for Workforce Excellence.

The event kicked off March 16 with an opening night reception featuring Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale, chief diversity and inclusion officer of the Campbell Soup Company, who said, "You cannot embed diversity into your organization – you must embed it in yourself.”

The following morning included a keynote address by Cole Brown, chief diversity officer for Walmart Stores. Noting that Walmart is already a diverse employer, Brown said, "The challenge is leveraging that diversity – mining the talent, promoting the talent and retaining the talent.”

Keynoter Andrés Tapia, chief diversity officer of Hewitt Associates and author of The Inclusion Paradox: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity, talked about his own multicultural background and addressed ways that companies could leverage differences to achieve inclusion. Andre Hughes, global managing partner of Accenture Cisco Business Group, was the event’s closing keynoter March 18. He gave a passionate presentation placing diversity and inclusion efforts in the context of the business world.

Beginner, intermediate and advanced workshops featured prominent authorities speaking on topics such as advancing women of color, becoming a global leader, integrating D&I through a company’s structure, embedding D&I into an organization’s culture, building multigenerational work teams and measuring and leveraging diversity and inclusion efforts.

View from the C-Suite

A panel of top executives closed the conference with a frank discussion of their experience implementing D&I in their companies. The panelists were Cathy Green, president of the Food Lion Family (Food Lion, Bloom, Harveys and Reid’s); Don Knauss, CEO of The Clorox Company; Michael Schlotman, senior vice president and CFO of The Kroger Co.; and James White, CEO of Jamba Juice. The conference closed with farewell remarks by Mike Gorshe, partner in the consumer goods and retail practice at Accenture and the conference’s executive advisor.

NEW President Alison Kenney Paul, a principal at Deloitte, declared the event a solid success. "Today’s leaders are managing multicultural, multigenerational and multinational workforces, and working to make their companies as diverse as their customer bases,” she said. "This conference, like the Network’s mission, is about overcoming longstanding obstacles to true workforce diversity and inclusion, finding and retaining the best talent available and translating those efforts into bottom-line results.”

"The strong participation from high-ranking professionals in the consumer products and retail industry speaks to the importance of recruiting, retaining and leveraging a diverse workforce in today’s marketplace,” said Joan Toth, the Network’s executive director. "This event shows that our members are on the forefront of D&I thought and action.”

NEW board members Regenia Stein of Kraft Foods (left) and Tonie Leatherberry of Deloitte caught up at the opening night reception of the NEW Multicultural Workforce Conference March 16 in Dallas.

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